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La Vie Care

Falls become a serious concern as we age and can lead to severe injuries that could result in a loss of mobility and independence or even death. Medication is one of the most common causes of falls, but luckily, it’s also one of the risk factors that are easiest to adjust, so let’s take a look at what hazards could be lurking in your medicine cabinet.

The danger of Multiple Medications

Any medication that makes you feel drowsy, dizzy or disorientated can lead to falls, and taking multiple medications can further add to the risk. Drug interactions between different medications can alter the effectiveness of the medication and can lead to unexpected side effects that could further increase your risk of falling.

It’s important to take medication as directed – the right dose at the right time. Missing doses or doubling up on a dose could also increase your risk of falls, so medication management is vital. A medication dispenser or medication organizer can go a long way to help manage multiple medications.

Medication that could increase your risk of falls is divided into three categories:

Medication that affects the central nervous system: These medications affect brain function, and side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, impaired balance and confusion which increase your risk of falls. Medications to look out for include:

  • Benzodiazepines are often prescribed as a sleeping aid and for anxiety. These drugs can be habit-forming and shouldn’t be stopped without medical supervision.
  • Non-benzodiazepine prescription sedatives are used to treat insomnia.
  • Anti-psychotics may be prescribed for depression as well as treating agitation and controlling difficult behaviours in dementia patients.
  • Anticonvulsants and mood stabilizers are prescribed to treat seizures and stabilize mood disorders, but can also be used to treat nerve pain and manage behavioural issues in dementia patients.
  • Antidepressants are used to treat depression and anxiety.
  • Opioid analgesics are often used to treat pain.
  • Anticholinergic medications cover most over-the-counter sleeping aids and a variety of prescription drugs. This group also includes sedating antihistamines used to treat allergies as well as medication for vertigo, motion sickness, nausea, itching, treating an overactive bladder and muscle relaxants.

Medication that affects blood pressure: These medications are used for treating high blood pressure to decrease the risk of stroke or heart failure. Dizziness and fainting due to a sudden drop in blood pressure when you change position, like standing up, can increase your risk of falls.

  • Antihypertensive medications are normally used to treat high blood pressure.
  • Some medications used to treat different conditions can also affect your blood pressure, so contact your healthcare provider if you experience dizziness.

Medications that lower blood sugar: Diabetes is already a risk factor, and medications causing hypoglycaemia, a condition where your blood sugar gets too low, can further increase your risk of falls.

 

Medication Review

If you’re concerned about your risk of falling, visit your healthcare provider with a list of all your medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, for a medication review. Make sure you know what each medication is supposed to treat, find out if there are safer alternatives, and make sure you’re taking the smallest effective dose to limit side effects.

In some cases, effective treatment of a condition adds to your quality of life, so the benefits of taking the medication outweigh the risks. Never stop taking medication without consulting your healthcare provider.

 

Conclusion

Chronic medication, much like grey hair and infinite wisdom, becomes inevitable as we age. While medication isn’t the only cause of falls, discussing the benefits and risks of each medication with your healthcare provider, and managing multiple medications properly, could decrease your risk of falls.